I want to give you this vegan rice paper bacon recipe today because it is one of the coolest things I have come across in a while and it’s absolutely DELICIOUS.
Bafflingly realistic in appearance, the rice paper bacon is made with a straightforward but ingenious process. After learning about this technique, I got around to making it with my personal favorite ‘bacon-inspired’ marinade and it did not last very long in my kitchen. So I made it a couple more times, even attempting to make a video, and took some nice photographs so that I could share it with you.
What’s the catch? There is no catch! This 100% vegan rice paper bacon is made totally from scratch, and totally from plants. So for anyone who enjoyed the crispy texture and smoky, super umami flavor of the ‘real thing’, but doesn’t want to eat meat anymore, I hope you will give this a try. No, this vegan bacon is not *exactly like bacon*. But out of all of the substitutes I’ve tried so far, this one does the best job of capturing the characteristics of the ‘real thing’ that I personally enjoyed the most. Go in without too many expectations, play around with it, and make it your own. 🙂
There are 3 easy steps to making your own rice paper bacon:
- Whisk up an easy smoky-sweet marinade
- Cut sheets of rice paper into strips, dip them quickly in water to soften and stick them together, and then generously coat them in the marinade
- Bake, fry, or microwave (yes, microwave!) them into crispy vegan bacon deliciousness
Set aside an hour next weekend and whip up a big batch. The rice paper bacon strips will stay crispy for a couple of days if stored correctly (see the recipe notes). I myself made avocado-vegan mayo-rice paper bacon sandwiches and they were incredibly moreish.
P.S. if this recipe sets your heart a-flutter and you want to branch out into even more cruelty-free recipes inspired by the flavor and texture of bacon, you’ll want to stay tuned. Next month I will be sharing a review and giveaway of a new all-vegan, bacony cookbook: Baconish , by Leinana Two Moons.
I’m experimenting with filming some live-action footage to include with future recipes! Unfortunately I was an idiot and positioned the camera behind my back, so I was blocking the lens with my arms for most of the film. What can I say, I am new to the studio life. I have a few snapshots of the process, though.
UPDATE 4/20/16: A reader suggested hydrating two sheets of rice paper all at once, then using scissors to cut it into strips. I will be trying that method next time – I think it’s an even easier way to make the recipe come together.
What is rice paper? I’m referring to the rice paper used for wrapping spring rolls, not the kind for calligraphy. You can find it in the Asian section of most grocery stores.
Vegan Rice Paper Bacon
- rice paper (there should be enough marinade to make 8 sheets of rice paper's worth of rice paper bacon, possibly more)
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup (this only gives a slight sweetness to round out the flavors, but you can feel free to omit or reduce it)
- generous pinch of ground black pepper
- pinch of paprika (I used hot Spanish paprika)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. (See notes for microwave instructions)
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the marinade in a wide bowl until the nutritional yeast is incorporated well; prepare a second wide bowl filled partway with water.
Prepare a metal, oven-safe rack with a sheet of parchment paper. (Skip this if microwaving).
Cut rice paper into thick strips, or to the size that you want. Note that the strips will shrink in size a little bit when cooking. Some brands of rice paper will crack a little bit when you cut them; Use a large, very sharp knife to minimize this.
Take two strips and stack them. Holding them together, dip them very quickly into the water. (UPDATE: if you have kitchen scissors, try dipping 2 whole rice paper sheets stacked together into the water, then cutting them into strips instead. I don't recommend cutting wet rice paper with a knife, it's not as easy as it seems). They should then start to stick together on their own. Gently squeeze excess water from the fused pair of rice paper strips.
Dip the fused pair of rice paper strips into the marinade and coat it fairly generously; place it onto the parchment paper.
Repeat with additional rice paper/rice paper strips until the rack is filled. NB: Periodically stop to whisk the marinade again and re-emulsify it; the oil will start to separate over time.
Bake for about 7 to 9 minutes, or until crisp. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the tray partway through. The strips can burn easily, so keep an eye on it and take them out as soon as they're done. The end result will be mostly crispy with some slightly chewy parts. 🙂
Once fully cooled, store leftover rice paper bacon in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. It will stay pretty crispy. But it probably won't survive 3 days without being eaten 🙂
OPTIONAL "MARBLING": Take a couple of spoonfuls of extra marinade and add a dash of balsamic vinegar and another good sprinkle of black pepper, and mix. Use a brush to dab a very light amount of the balsamic mixture onto various places on the rice paper bacon strips. Once baked they will produce the marbling effect that you see in my pictures.
MAKE THIS IN THE MICROWAVE: The vegan bacon that's almost too good to be true. I discovered it on accident when I just wanted to test the flavors. The texture is *not quite as good* as from the oven, but it's still great. Take a microwave-safe plate and place the marinated un-cooked strips on it. Do not crowd the pan, you may have to work in batches. Microwave in 30-second intervals at full power until crispy. You will hear a LOT of sizzling and need to wipe excess oil from the plate between batches.
Rice paper bacon recipe adapted from the Danish blog, Veganer.